Climbing Illimani in the late season

Climbing Illimani in the late season

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 16.655°S / 67.784°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Sep 6, 2009
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Winter

On our way

Illimani from La Paz
Illimani from the streets of La Paz
Early morning, September 4, 2009, my guide Eloy picked me up at my hotel in downtown La Paz. After warming up on Pequeño Alpamayo and Huayna Potosí, I was ready for bigger things. We were going to have a go at Illimani (6438m).

To base camp

Illimani is clearly visible from La Paz. As the crow flies, it's only about 50 to 60 km away, but of course, there are no straight roads in the mountains. It took us four hours to drive to Estancia Unna (3600m), and take in the scenery along the way.

At Estancia Unna, our arriero and his mules were waiting for us for the trek to base camp (4400m). Since it wasn't very far, we hiked up there the same day.

On the road The start Hiking Base camp

Nido de Condores

Mules can't scramble, so we employed porters on the second day. We hiked and scrambled up to high camp, which is on a rock promontory at 5450m. It's called Nido de Condores - does that ring a bell with anybody?

Easy going En route to high camp High camp Illimani from high camp

Summit day

Illimani high camp: Nido de Condores
Flapping tent
At night, it was windy. My tent was flapping a lot - then again, it wasn't rigged very neat.

I slept excellent, despite the altitude - in fact, we overslept, and as a result we left an hour later than planned. Even though I didn't ascend fast, that wasn't really a problem that day as the weather stayed fine. Lento pero seguro - slow but safe - that was my motto.
The route was in good condition, nice hard packed snow. Eloy had to have a good look a few times to find the best way around various obstacles we encountered. There were several somewhat steeper sections, but all in all it wasn't too difficult and early in the morning we reached the summit. Unlike on Huayna Potosi a few days earlier, we enjoyed great views this time. We could see the backbone of the Cordillera Real, all the way to Ancohuma and Illampu!

Illimani up close Crevasses More obstacles On the summit

Eventually, we had to go down of course. We didn't sink all that deep in the snow, so we were back at high camp in no time. We had a bit of rest there, broke camp and descended further. I guess we got off the mountain pretty fast, because at base camp, we had to wait for the mules to arrive to take over from the porters again. After that, we hiked down further to Estancia Unna and camped a final time, just outside the village, before heading back to La Paz.

Man, was I happy!

Bolivian wonderland


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